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Daniel - Poker Journal

Believe in Yourself

19 Dec 2006

When you are brimming with confidence it's only a hop, step, and a jump towards cockiness. I realize that I've been flirting with that line recently, but my level of confidence right now is overwhelming and I think it shows.

Frankly, if you are going to lean towards bravado or self doubt, you are much better off with the Hellmuthian approach. In order to play your best, you need to believe that your game is top notch and that if you play your best, and the cards co-operate, that you'll come out on top.

For some time I think I had some doubts about my play. I wasn't exactly sure what I was doing wrong, but as I've mentioned before, in Foxwoods I think I figured it out. It was a total epiphany and it makes me feel almost like I have a little secret that no one else knows.

Where did the doubts come from? I'm not sure, really, but I think it just comes from the amount of pressure I put on myself to not only reach the top, but then to stay there. Also, I think I may have been slightly intimidated by some of the up and coming young players in the game.

I questioned myself sometimes and wondered, do they play better than me? They work hard on their games playing online, they think, eat, sleep, and talk poker 24/7. Have they passed me by to some degree?

In the last year or so I was tinkering with my game a little bit trying to add a few more weapons to my repertoire. Then in Foxwoods, I decided to just go back to playing MY game and see where that takes me. It didn't take long for me to realize that I just needed to believe in myself and approach the game with the "system" that I developed in 2004. My system is good, especially in deep stack tournaments.

My game is much better suited to the WPT than the WSOP. The WSOP is great and all, but in the no limit tournaments there the focus is pre-flop, where on the WPT, you get enough chips and time to actually make the brunt of your decisions post-flop.

People often ask me for "one tip" that should help change their game. Well, if I had just one shot, I think this would be it: in order to win a WPT event you can't be afraid to let them catch up, even if that means they outdraw you sometimes.

If you've been following the tournament updates online you've probably noticed that I've slow played AA several times- a cardinal sin according to some poker literature out there. Well, if you fully understood the difference between a $1000 WSOP event and a $15,000 buy in WPT event with 30,000 in chips, you'd understand that what you do pre-flop is nowhere near as important as the decisions you'll end up making after the flop.

Things will change now. We are down to 6 players and based on the WPT final table structure we'll have about 4-6 hours of play, which means in level one things will be as normal, but by level three a major shift in strategy will be required. Good news is, I been there and done that.

A couple other milestones I have my eye on that Jack McLelland let me know. He told me that if I win, I'll be the all-time money leader in the history of Bellagio events. Also, a fifth place finish will see me leapfrog over Tuan Le as the all-time money winner on the WPT.

In traditional sports, when you ask a player on a team something like, "So what does it mean to you to be the MVP?" he'll often respond with something like, "Well, it's all about the team. I couldn't have done it without the best offensive line in the game. I don't really think about the individual honors much, it's all about the rings baby."

Well poker isn't a team game. Individual honors is all you have to shoot for, and I want them all. That stuff is important to me, very important. It's why I play tournaments. They satisfy my competitive side and it's a lot of fun trying to break records or be number one at something.

I have a list of things I want to accomplish in my career. It comes from my video game playing days when you have to complete tasks to finish the game. I have a long list:

1.All-Time Money Winner in Tournament Poker
2.Most Bracelets at the WSOP
3.Win the $50,000 HORSE
4.Win the $10,000 Main Event at the WSOP
5.Win the $25,000 WPT Championship
6.Win the NBC National Heads Up Championship
7.Win the WSOP Player of the Year multiple times
8.Win the WPT Player of the Year multiple times
9.Win the CardPlayer of the Year Award and break my points record set in 2004
10.Most WPT wins
11.All-Time Money List WPT
12.Most WPT Player Points
13.Most WPT Final Tables
14.All-Time Money winner in Bellagio events

I'm sure other things will pop up on that list, but that's what I have for now. Today's final table can help me achieve several of my goals, 10-14.

On that note, time to shower and get ready for interviews...